The Minnesota Gophers passed their first big test as Luke Loewe’s tip-in with 2.4 seconds remaining helped Minnesota defeat Pittsburgh 54-53 on Tuesday night.
The Gopher offense was inconsistent throughout the first half as both teams struggled to get a bucket. After going into the first media timeout with a 2-0 lead, Minnesota started to find a rhythm by attacking the rim.
Payton Willis and Jamison Battle benefitted early from this, scoring seven points each in the first half but Pittsburgh got back into the game with their size in the paint.
John Hugley was a big problem for the Gophers, putting up 25 points and 14 rebounds on the night and helping Pitt race out to an eight-point lead in the second half.
Battle got the Gophers back into the game by scoring eight straight points to tie the game at 44 with just over eight minutes remaining. Despite his team-high 16 points on the night, Hugley’s dominance in the paint opened things up for the Panthers.
With a couple of timely buckets, Pitt built a 53-50 lead in the final minute. After a tip-in by Eric Curry cut the lead to one point, the Gophers got a stop and had a chance to win the game with 7.4 seconds.
Willis took the inbound for Minnesota and went to the rim but his missed shot was cleaned up by Loewe for his only basket of the night. A half-court heave by the Panthers fell short and the Gophers survived to improve to 6-0.
Minnesota will look to stay undefeated when they travel to Mississippi State on Sunday for its last game before winter break.